Weekly News Briefs 04 September 2020:


Zimbabwe warms up to national dialogue.

Many Zimbabweans are warming up to the recent calls for national dialogue and an internal resolution of the country’s decades-long political and economic crises, while also imploring President Emmerson Mnangagwa to move with speed to hold the much-needed talks with all key stakeholders.

Among the groups which spoke to the Daily News yesterday which are amenable to the local resolution of the country’s well-documented challenges are opposition parties – although they added that it would be wrong for the ruling Zanu-PF to spurn assistance by well-meaning outsiders.

This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed special envoys – former South Africa vice president Baleka Mbete and ex-ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi – to try and end Zimbabwe’s myriad crises. It also comes as the government has warned that it is futile for Zimbabweans to hope and expect that foreigners possess a magic wand that will miraculously resolve the country’s difficulties.

“Ultimately, the only peaceful and lasting solution is a genuine, honest and bona fide dialogue among Zimbabweans in which players agree on issues and whether we have the capacity to resolve the problems we face. They fail to realise that the road they are choosing is a well-trodden road and that they will go nowhere,” unflappable MDC Alliance vice president, Welshman Ncube, told the Daily News.

Zimbabwe Mail 03 September 2020

EU ambassador says renewing budget support to Zimbabwe ‘impossible’

Ongoing mismanagement and corruption mean it is “out of the question” that the European Union will resume aid directly to the government of Zimbabwe anytime soon, according to the bloc’s ambassador to the country.

The government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has “indicated that they would be interested in reverting back to budget support,” EU Ambassador Timo Olkkonen told Devex in an interview last week. “I can’t prejudge, of course, what happens with the [EU’s upcoming development assistance] programming exercise — but I would say, from my personal perspective, I think it would be impossible.”

The EU stopped sending money directly to government coffers in the southern African nation in 2002, citing violations of human rights and democratic principles under then-President Robert Mugabe. Three years ago, when Mnangagwa seized power from his former mentor in a coup and declared the country “open for business,” Brussels offered the prospect of greater assistance in exchange for free and fair elections.

Devex 02 September 2020


How eSwatini silences opposition activists

You have a problem: As a public relations exercise you have adopted a democratic Constitution that enshrines the right of political dissent. What do you do?

The Kingdom of eSwatini’s response to this dilemma is to arrest opposition activists on vague and flimsy charges — sedition and terrorism are the favourite options — and leave them languishing in jail or out on bail without charging them, sometimes for years.

In some cases, charges are brought or kept alive even though the relevant legislation has been struck down as unconstitutional by the high court.

Goodwill Sibiya, a political activist from Mhlosheni in the south of eSwatini, is a case in point. Sibiya undertook a near-impossible mission — challenging the authority of the monarch.

In May last year, he filed papers in the high court challenging King Mswati III and the royal household over the ownership of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, the royal piggy bank founded by Mswati’s father, King Sobhuza II, at independence in 1968. It is funded through contributions from ordinary emaSwati across the country.

Mail and Guardian 27 August 2020

Eswatini Pm: Bigger Neighbours Could’ve Done More to Help in Covid-19 Fight

eSwatini’s Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini said that bigger countries in the region could have done more to assist smaller neighbours to get hold of personal protective equipment at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The country is assessing its lockdown means and its impact on the country. But Dlamini said there were no hard feelings.

The two countries are as good as joined at the hip, but at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the much smaller kingdom appears to have found itself out in the cold.

Dlamini told foreign journalists that countries in the region should have cooperated more closely and leveraged their strength to help smaller countries buy personal protective equipment.

“Some countries perhaps have got strength and they’ve got better connections than others, so we should have really leveraged off the regional strength, which didn’t really happen. But we can’t blame anybody because no-one was really prepared for COVID-19. It was like a tsunami that came and hit, and people tended to be more internally focused.”

EWN 03 September 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

Hundreds Protest in Solidarity with Dr Mukwege

Hundreds of people could be found marching in the streets of Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday.

They raised their voices in solidarity with Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Dr Denis Mukwege – who has been the target of death threats since July after he publicly condemned an 18-person massacre in the strife-torn region on social media.

Even women the doctor had medically attended to following acts of sexual violence joined the march after first gathering at his hospital in nearby Panzi to express concern and show support.

Words from the Streets

An impassioned demonstrator, Roger Buhendwa, shared his thoughts, “Ever since the doctor denounced the massacre in Kipupu, there is a certain group of people who have been targeting him and we find that it is not normal because he is a human rights defender and it is his duty to sound the alarm when things are not working.”

Africa News 03 September 2020

Two students, teacher killed in DR Congo school attack

At least two students and a teacher have been killed and several other teachers kidnapped after a primary school holding exams was attacked by unidentified gunmen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said two students died when fighting broke out in North Kivu province on Thursday morning. He did not give further details.

Cosmas Kangakolo, an administrator for Masisi territory, said the Ngoyi Primary School was attacked. He said one teacher died and several were kidnapped.

Exam centres in the area are protected by the army, Kangakolo said, because of endemic security problems.

The United Nations children’s fund said the clashes took place between law enforcement officials and an armed group near the exam centre.

Aljazeera 29 August 2020

Central African Republic

World Bank Group launches New Country Partnership Framework, and provides immediate support to economic recovery

Today, the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors discussed a new five-year Country Partnership Framework to support the Central African Republic for FY21-FY25. A $50-million grant from the International Development Association (IDA)* was also approved for a Development Policy Operation to help the government implement structural reforms to strengthen social inclusion and fiscal management.

The new Country Partnership Framework aims to boost stabilization, inclusion and resilience, while building state legitimacy and fostering growth. During the five-year period, the WBG will invest in human capital, connectivity, economic management and governance. Women’s empowerment and digital development will be cross-cutting priorities. In addition, the strategy provides an exceptional Turn-Around Allocation for the Central African Republic (CAR) with an envelope of up to $355 million for the coming three years provided that the country continues on its path to stabilization and peace.

“CAR is at a turning point. The 18-month old Peace Accord has proven difficult to implement, yet it is still holding. As the country is preparing for presidential and local elections, it has a unique opportunity to build the conditions under which the people of CAR can fully reap the dividends of peace,” said Han Fraeters, Country Manager for Central African Republic. “The WBG is committed to supporting that continued transition.”

Relief Web 04 September 2020

Former Central African Republic interim leader to run in December poll

Former Central Africa Republic’s transitional leader Catherine Samba-Panza, who guided the country from 2014 to 2016, has declared she will challenge incumbent President Faustin Archange Touadera in the Dec. 27 election.

Samba-Panza, 64, who became the first woman to lead the country of 4.6 million in the wake of a political crisis in 2012-2013, said on Friday that she took the decision after many people had encouraged her to run.

“In the face of increased socio-political tension and the degrading security in the country, many appealed from all sides of the political spectrum, asking me to run,” Samba-Panza said in a speech to supporters in the capital.

“I have proven that I wasn’t infected by the virus of power by keeping the constitutional commitment not to run in 2016,” she said.

CGTN Africa 29 August 2020


‘A race against time’: the new law putting Somalia’s children at risk of marriage

ardowsa Salat Mohamed was 15 when her cousin asked her parents for her hand in marriage. Her father did not hesitate to say yes. When Mohamed objected, her father asked her to choose between “a curse and a blessing”.

“That was not a choice for me, I was basically forced,” she says. “No girl would ever choose to be cursed by her parents so I had to accept the marriage,”

Mohamed, who is from the town of Baidoa in south-central Somalia, was at school, dreaming of becoming a doctor. She had to drop everything and become a wife. Three years later, Mohamed was divorced with two children. She is now back living at her parents’ house.

According to the latest government figures, 34% of Somali girls are married before they reach 18, and 16% of them before their 15th birthday.

The Guardian 03 September 2020

President Eyes Election Deal in Talks with Puntland, Jubaland Leaders

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo is on Thursday expected to hold crucial talks with the leaders of Jubaland and Puntland states to chart a common path for the upcoming elections.

Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe of Jubaland and Said Abdullahi Deni arrived in Mogadishu on Wednesday. Ahead of the meeting, President Farmajo welcomed Madobe and Deni at Villa Somalia, the State House in Mogadishu.

They also held meetings with UN representatives in Somalia, the US and UK ambassadors among other diplomats.

The duo have been rebelling against a new agreement reached last month to have elections conducted via a system known as constituency caucuses, which could improve on the traditional but controversial clan delegate system.

AllAfrica 02 September 2020


Sudan’s Omar Bashir’s trial adjourned to Sept. 15

Sudan’s trial of ousted President Omar Bashir over the 1989 coup that brought him to power was adjourned Tuesday to Sept. 15, the presiding judge said.

The session, which was broadcast on Sudan TV, was held amid tight security as Bashir, 76, and other co-accused regime figures stood behind bars in the courtroom.

After procedural questions and debate about coronavirus precautions in the courtroom, the presiding judge declared the hearing was “adjourned to September 15.”

Giving his profession as “former president of the republic,” Bashir seemed in good physical condition as he appeared in a metal courtroom cage wearing white prison-issue clothes and a medical face mask that he lowered to identify himself.

In footage carried by Sudanese state TV he said he was resident in Khartoum’s Kober Prison, 76 years old, and had two wives.

Arab News 02 September 2020

Sudan to Cooperate with ICC

Sudan will fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission and memorial sites will be set up. Imbalances in the civil service and the judiciary will be addressed.

The transitional government and the armed movements that signed the peace agreement in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on Monday have affirmed their willingness to “full and unlimited cooperation” with the ICC regarding the indicted Sudanese.

In accordance with the Juba agreement, Sudan will allow easy access for ICC prosecutors and investigators to victims, witnesses, and investigation sites. The ICC officials will be able to move freely in all parts of the country at all times. The government and the armed movements will not interfere in ICC investigations and trials and guarantee the protection of all prosecutors, victims, and witnesses.

By cooperating with the ICC, Sudan will adhere to the 2005 Security Council Resolution 1593 that referred the Darfur case to the ICC. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has welcomed Sudan’s decision to cooperate with the ICC.

AllAfrica 02 September 2020

South Sudan

In South Sudan, Mixed Reaction to Peace Deal with Rebel Coalition

Some Sudanese citizens are welcoming the signing Monday in Juba of a peace deal mediated by South Sudanese leaders. Some say the agreement will allow them to move freely, engage in agriculture and carry out other developmental projects without fear. 

Khartoum resident Khadija Iddris of the Arkaweet neighborhood calls the deal one of the signature achievements of the Sudanese revolution.

“Resources that have been spent on fighting each other should now be directed to development projects. Citizens will be able to exchange goods, carry out trading activities and be free to move between states,” Iddris told South Sudan in Focus.

The transitional government signed the historic deal with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel groups from the regions of Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and the Blue Nile. The ceremony took place in Juba’s Freedom House.

Voice of America 31 August 2020

Soaring food prices force people to live in refugee camps

People in South Sudan are reeling under the volatile and soaring food prices to the extent that many of them are preferring to live in UN refugee camps.

People say they are forced to spend 95% of their incomes on buying edibles.

Monica Adhieu,47, a mother of five children who had gone to buy food items in a market in the capital Juba, realized that she could only buy a sack of maize flour with the amount she had earned

“As you can see I am buying a 50-kilogram sack of maize flour which is now costing 12,000 South Sudanese pounds (SSP) ($50), and that is the only amount left from my salary. It is not possible now for me to purchase any other item,” she told Anadolu Agency.

Adhieu is working at a local restaurant in Konyo Konyo Market in Juba

“I pay 10,000 SSP ($76) as rent for a single room, where I live. I earn 5,600 SSP ($42) in a week and about 22,400 SSP ($130) in a month, “she said.

After spending her earnings to buy food, there is hardly anything left to pay the school and tuition fee of her five children.

Anadolu Agency 03 September 2020

Western Sahara

UN – Over 240 NGOs Demand Rapporteur On Human Rights in Sahrawi Occupied Territories

Over 240 Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) composing the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara on Saturday advocated the creation of a mandate of special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sahrawi occupied territories.

In a communiqué released on the occasion of the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances celebrated on 30 August each year, 245 NGOs urged the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to create “a mandate of special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Occupied Western Sahara.”

They underlined the need to “very first Article of each of the four Geneva Conventions and to ensure that Morocco complies with the provisions of the said Convention under any circumstance in occupied Western Sahara,” said the communiqué.

In this regard, the signatories called the International Red Crescent Committee (IRCC) to cooperate with the Polisario Front, the only legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, in its search for the missing Sahrawis.

AllAfrica 31 August 2020

Human rights defense mechanism for Western Sahara

Minister of Occupied Territories and the Sahrawi Community Abroad has announced the creation of a human rights coordination mechanism to document and expose the violations committed by Morocco against the Sahrawi people since the military invasion of Western Sahara in 1975.

This coordination mechanism has been created upon instruction from Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali during a meeting held Monday under the supervision of Premier Bouchraya Hamoudi Beyoun.

According to a communiqué from the Sahrawi Ministry, the repression to which the Sahrawis in the occupied territories are subjected urged the creation of a mechanism that will “have a positive impact” on SADR and “its struggle for human rights” in these territories.

SADR is “aware” of the importance of “unveiling the policy and targets of Morocco” by documenting its crimes against humanity since 1975 for referral to the competent courts.

The mechanism will bring together several institutions and organizations involved in human rights in Western Sahara like the ministries of Occupied Territories and the Sahrawi Community Abroad, Foreign Affairs and Information, as well as the Polisario Front Political Secretariat, the Sahrawi Human Rights Committee and the Union of Lawyers, the Association of the families of Sahrawi detainees and disappeared, and the Association of victims of anti-personnel mines.

AllAfrica 29 August 2020